Rumpole at Christmas by John Mortimer

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Rumpole at Christmas by John Mortimer

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Category: Short Stories
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Louise Laurie
Reviewed by Louise Laurie
Summary: The much-loved Rumpole is featured here in a selection of Christmas stories. Grumpy, witty and not afraid of a criminal challenge or two, Horace Rumpole bursts onto the page in this festive edition.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 160 Date: October 2010
Publisher: Penguin
ISBN: 978-0141039770

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This book is as slim as one of Rumpole's beloved packets of cigars and it can also be read in the time it takes an average turkey to cook in the oven on Christmas Day. A handful of festive, short stories is covered in this book with its appealing front cover. Most of the stories have been previously published elsewhere, mainly in The Strand Magazine but also in some of the national newspapers.

Many of us, I suspect, will be familiar with Mortimer's character Rumpole, courtesy of the television series. So, straight away, I've a good mental picture of Rumpole before I've even got as far as opening the book. A cracking start. As to Christmas and Christmas Day itself, well, in Rumpole's own words he says I have no rooted objection ... but I must say it's an occasion when time tends to hang particularly heavily on the hands. Honest, grammatically correct (as always) and he's simply saying what many of us are thinking. Christmas for many is a day to be endured, sadly.

The first short story is called Rumpole and the old Familiar Faces. He's been invited to spend a Christmas in Norfolk. He doesn't want to go. His wife thinks it a good idea. He goes. But Rumpole's wit surfaces as he describes the journey through the Norfolk countryside as ... slapped around the face by a wind ... started in freezing Siberia and gained nothing in the way of warmth on its journey across the plains of Europe. There's plenty more where that came from to put a smile on the reader's face. It did mine.

I think it a bit of an understatement to say that Rumpole has a way with words. He has plenty of verbal ammunition for his many battles in court. And as we know, he usually wins. He's a larger-than-life character, once met not usually forgotten ... He also has a good, hearty appetite for food, glorious, food. It's a recurring theme throughout. Rumpole, being the English gent he is, favours old-fashioned, plain fare. Oh, and a nice tipple to wash it all down. There's a lovely line in the story ... and the Health Farm Murder where he's really trying to ahem, get in shape, lose a pound or two and in order to do this he ... abolished all thoughts of bacon and eggs and tucked into a low-calorie papaya biscuit. Priceless. And utterly charming.

What I love about Rumpole is that he's not afraid to speak his mind. To anyone. (Well, apart from his long-suffering wife). He is also not averse to thinking outside the box - to get the result he wants, when working at court. This is a little Christmas cracker of a book. A feel-good factor for those chilly nights to warm the cockles of all Rumpole fans. I can see this book being slipped into many a Christmas stocking. Recommended.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

If this appeals, have a look at another of the greats: Aside Arthur Conan Doyle by Paul R Spiring.

Buy Rumpole at Christmas by John Mortimer at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Rumpole at Christmas by John Mortimer at

Buy Rumpole at Christmas by John Mortimer at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Rumpole at Christmas by John Mortimer at


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